September 8th, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
When Janice Viner Selix passed away peacefully this year at the age of 94, her family wanted to honor her life-long commitment to philanthropy and community. That legacy is now in place through a generous bequest to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s medical care and research in celebration of Janice and Alfred Selix’s great-grandson Chase Turner Perry.
The bequest was made with input from Janice and Alfred Selix’s family — daughter Susan & Randy Karsh, and grandchildren Greg Karsh and Casey & Brett Perry. The bequest will support the Shared Family Room at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, fund a grant for Down syndrome and aspiration research, and establish the “Selix Family Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Development Fund” at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
“Mom quietly and generously supported so many students with the opportunity of higher education,” said Alfred and Janice Selix’s daughter Lynn Blankfort of Mill Valley, California. “Her quest to educate has been further extended in recognition of her great-grandson, Chase Perry, the ultimate student whose accomplishments thus far have taught others so much. May this gift continue to educate parents and family members in bettering the lives of those with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s.”
The Shared Family Room at the Sie Center opened as part of the Sie Center’s new clinical space in 2013 and is intended as a place where clinicians and families can meet in a comforting environment to discuss diagnoses, plans and questions.
The Down Syndrome & Aspiration Research Grant at the Sie Center will fund important study into why children with Down syndrome are more likely to have aspiration problems and what treatments are best suited to helping them thrive. Aspiration research was particularly important to the Karsh and Perry families because of problems that Chase Turner Perry had with aspiration as an infant.
The Selix Family Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Development Fund will enable key scientists at the Crnic Institute, including Executive Director Tom Blumenthal, Ph.D., and Director of Alzheimer’s Research Huntington Potter, Ph.D., to go out into the community and spread awareness about the connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Potter is the scientist who discovered the mechanistic relationship between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s and is leading the establishment of an Alzheimer’s research and care center in Colorado. Research into the connection may hold the key to better treatments that would benefit those with Down syndrome and those with Alzheimer’s. Virtually 100% of people with Down syndrome will have the plaques and tangles in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but only an estimated 50 percent will develop the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s.
Janice Selix was born in Stockton, California, and moved to San Francisco at the age of 6, where she lived for the rest of her life. She was known for her warm, gracious, proud, caring and artistic nature, and she continually gave of herself, and generously contributed to those in need. She was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred.
Alfred and Janice Selix’s other daughter, Susan Karsh, and her husband, Randy, are ardent supporters of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Susan and Randy Karsh’s grandson, Chase Turner Perry, is a Global Down Syndrome Foundation Ambassador.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation appreciates the longtime support, advocacy and friendship of the Karsh and Perry families and expresses its profound thanks for the Selix Family bequest and all of the great work it will help fund in support of benefiting the lives of people with Down syndrome.
Tom Blumenthal in the lab at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome
Global Briefs Congress on
Critical Down Syndrome Research
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
8:00 am to 9:30 am
Cannon House Office Building Room 122
The Congressional Down Syndrome Briefing Series is co-organized by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the National Down Syndrome Congress and the National Down Syndrome Society. This important briefing will focus on global research findings related to Down syndrome, including the link to Alzheimer’s disease, and opportunities for future research efforts.
Among the speakers updating members of Congress about the latest research will be:
- Members of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus
- Michelle Livingston, Senior Director of Operations and Government Affairs for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
- Dr. Thomas Blumenthal, Executive Director, Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, University of Colorado School of Medicine
- Dr. Huntington Potter, Director of Alzheimer’s Research at the Crnic Institute and the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology
- Jon Colman, President of the National Down Syndrome Society
- Sara Weir, Vice President of Advocacy and Affiliate Relations for the National Down Syndrome Society
- Susan Goodman, Director of Government Affairs for the National Down Syndrome Congress
Our Congressional briefing is held in conjunction with the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Pete Sessions, Chris Van Hollen and Eleanor Holmes Norton
RSVP to Deana Perlmutter at email@example.com
Dr Huntington Potter and Friends
Dr. Huntington Potter and Alzheimer’s-Down syndrome research
Dr. Potter is the scientist who discovered the mechanistic relationship between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about his groundbreaking research and why studying people with Down syndrome could benefit both people with Down syndrome and people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Global’s Alzheimer’s initiatives
Global is committed to raising awareness and important research funding for Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about Global’s Alzheimer’s initiatives.
September 7th, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Infantile spasms can occur in children with Down syndrome and typical children alike. Ongoing research at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado examines the relationship between infantile spasms and Down syndrome in hopes of improving diagnosis and treatment.
The spasms, characterized by a stiffening of the extremities and an arching or folding at the waist, are also known as West’s syndrome after the first known description of the condition’s symptoms — a letter penned by Dr. W. J. West describing his son’s attacks. Dr. West’s son would heave forward from the waist for a moment, then return to an upright position. These episodes would occur in clusters of as many as 20 spasms in a row in rapid succession.
While infantile spasms are serious, they are not common. Estimates suggest 1 to 3 percent of children with Down syndrome will develop infantile spasms, while the highest estimate places that figure around 13 percent.
Why So Serious?
Children with infantile spasms stop progressing toward developmental milestones and may lose motor skills they have already mastered, such as sitting up or crawling. They may experience cognitive and speech regression as well.
Unaddressed infantile spasms may permanently impair functionality and impact children’s abilities — a serious concern for children with Down syndrome who may already have developmental delays.
“It is imperative to diagnose infantile spasms early to promote early appropriate treatment and the best possible outcome,” said Dee Daniels, R.N., C.P.N.P., Program Director at the Sie Center.
The Infantile Spasms Research Study
Dee Daniels & Dr. Tim Benke
Currently, the most effective treatments for infantile spasms are pharmaceutical.
“Once, working with children who have Down syndrome and infantile spasms, I noticed that children with Down syndrome were more responsive to treatment, and many times, their infantile spasms resolved quickly,” said Daniels, who was previously a nurse practitioner on the epilepsy team in neurology at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “They also often did not go on to have other seizure types, which was not always the case in typical children who had infantile spasms.”
In the first phase of the Improved Outcome of Infantile Seizures in Down Syndrome Population research project, researchers at the Sie Center are examining the records of 28 patients with Down syndrome and infantile spasms who were cared for at Children’s Hospital Colorado between April 2005 and April 2013. Thus far, researchers have examined the response to various anticonvulsants — including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and vigabatrin — to determine their effectiveness.
The research is planned to continue as a 10-year longitudinal study.
“While ACTH treatment for infantile spasms is effective, it can be potentially costly and time consuming. Each type of treatment, ACTH or vigabatrin, has unique side effects,” said Tim Benke, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research at the Neuroscience Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Otolaryngology, and Pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We want to provide clear information and guidelines for families so they can make informed decisions about what’s right for their children.”
Spotting the Signs
Daniels and Dr. Benke also hope this research will help to increase awareness of infantile spasms in children with Down syndrome, so those who are experiencing this condition will be identified early and treated appropriately to improve their medical and developmental outcomes.
“Sometimes children with Down syndrome who are experiencing infantile spasms are not always recognized early and then treatment is delayed,” Daniels said. “Contributing factors to this missed diagnosis can be that children with Down syndrome already have a range of development delays prior to diagnosis as well as low muscle tone and other medical issues. Subtle early symptoms are often attributed to Down syndrome, hence the diagnosis of infantile spasms is delayed or missed. Raising the awareness of the child’s healthcare providers, parents, and caretakers about the risk and presenting features of infantile spasms in children with Down syndrome is imperative to improving outcomes.”
The Sie Center was founded in 2010 with the support of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. It serves as a hub of care and research for children with Down syndrome and has the added benefit of being connected to Children’s Hospital Colorado, a top 10 children’s hospital. For more information about the work being done at the Sie Center, visit siecenter.org.
September 7th, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation
and the Denver Film Society Present
a Special Screening of “Menschen”
Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Denver Film Society were pleased to present the Colorado premiere of “Menschen,” a short 30-minute film directed by Colorado’s own Sarah Lotfi, whose own brother and sister were born with Down syndrome and autism, inspiring the character of Radek Novak. The film stars a staunch Global supporter and self-advocate and actor Connor Long.
“MENSCHEN” is the German word for “human beings.” The film challenges prejudice behind stereotypes like “enemy,” “disabled,” or even “hero.”
The screening, at the posh new Sie FilmCenter, included dinner, the movie, and a special Q&A with Long, Lotfi and Producer Anastasia Cumming. Thank you to Three Tomatoes Catering for donating their excellent food for the event!
May 1945, as the Allies close in, an Austrian captain guides his remnant company behind the Russian lines to surrender to the Americans, taking under their wing a boy with a developmental disability. As the loyalty of his men is brought to the test, a dark secret from the captain’s past comes to light.
About Connor Long:
“Menschen” marks the film debut of Connor Long. Seventeen at the time of production, Connor worked with a dialect coach to speak his German lines in the film. Since filming, he continues his formal education, expanding his personal abilities and opportunities to serve as a role model while finding new challenges and having fun. A regular student in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Connor has enjoyed his roles on a variety of projects within the Colorado film and arts community. Connor hopes his work as an actor, athlete, model and advocate will speak plainly as to the inherent value and potential of differently-abled people everywhere. Connor is a regular at Global Down Syndrome Foundation events, and he recently biked with Global’s Dare to Ride Team at the 2014 Courage Classic bike tour in support of the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Director Statement:War is never black and white; there are many perspectives that bring out real color in an adaption. Most people do not put disability and WWII in the same sentence, yet the historical link between them sets the stage for Menschen. I used “Menschen,” the German word for people to convey the dichotomy of what it means to be human regardless of race or disability.
Best Actor, Connor Long, Filmstock Film Festival, 2013
Best of Best, Filmstock Film Festival, 2013
Founder’s Award for Excellence, Life Fest Film Festival, 2013
Audience Selection, Best Short Film, Life Fest Film Festival, 2013
Learn more about “Menschen” awards and film festival selections
Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival – Sept. 19-20 – Temecula, CA
Reykjavik International Film Festival – Sept. 28-Oct. 4 – Reykjavik, Iceland
Showcase of Lucerne Film Festival – October – Lucerne, Switzerland
Learn more about screenings of “Menschen”
September 7th, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Baby Gammy surrogacy case rocks Thailand and Australia
Outraged and saddened by author Richard Dawkins’ words
September 2nd, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is pleased to announce a new grant opportunity from the National Institute of Aging.
The 2 grants totaling $5 million dollars will be awarded in late 2015. The goal of this funding opportunity is to enable the longitudinal progression of Alzheimer’s disease in adults with Down Syndrome using clinical, cognitive, imaging, genetic and biochemical biomarkers.
Global Down Syndrome Foundation is extremely grateful to the National Institutes of Health!
Thanks to all those who have supported Global’s research advocacy in Washington, DC! Together we ARE making a difference!
Learn more about the research at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome
Read more about the Grant Opportunity here: Grant Request for Proposal(RFP)
August 22nd, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
DENVER & ATLANTA (August 22, 2014) – The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress are outraged and saddened by recent public comments by the British author Richard Dawkins.
In response to a question from a concerned woman about the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome, Dawkins strongly argued for the elimination of people with the condition.
“…The decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare,” Dawkins wrote on his blog.
Global Down Syndrome Foundation executive director Michelle Sie Whitten responded: “It is amazing to me in the 21st century that there is so much misinformation and discrimination against people with Down syndrome. I would hope the world is as appalled by Richard Dawkins’ statements as it was by the recent case of twin baby Gammy, where his Australian biological parents abandoned him to his surrogate in Thailand. The fact is people with Down syndrome can and do live long, happy and productive lives.”
“We firmly believe and advocate that ‘We’re More Alike Than Different,’ and statements like Richard Dawkins’ promote division instead of unity,” said David Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress. “People with Down syndrome should not be treated like second-class citizens, and anyone making that argument sets back the great progress that has been made in terms of equality for all people.”
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress strongly advocate for the availability of current and accurate information about Down syndrome. Below are specific facts about the condition in the United States:
- Lifespan – Today, the average lifespan of a person with Down syndrome is nearly 60 years.
- Termination rates – The best available statistics in the U.S. are that an estimated 67 percent of women who receive an amniocentesis resulting in a positive test result for Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. But over 95 percent of pregnant women don’t even elect to receive an amniocentesis.
- Medical care & research – There have been great strides in medical care and research that have doubled the lifespan of people with Down syndrome over the last 30 years.
- Educational opportunities – People with Down syndrome are included in public schools. Many complete high school, and increasing numbers are going to college or get vocational training.
- Voting & Employment – Many people with Down syndrome work, volunteer and vote.
- Marriage, Siblings & Self-advocates– Despite potential challenges, personal accounts and studies show most families that have a child with Down syndrome are stable, successful and happy, and that siblings often report having increased levels of compassion and empathy. One major study on marriages and Down syndrome shows that the divorce rate among parents of children with Down syndrome is lower than the national average.
About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Formally established in 2009, Global has the primary focus of supporting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the U.S. committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal. Global organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show — the single-largest annual fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome. Programmatically, Global organizes and funds many programs and conferences, including the Dare to Play Football Camp with Ed McCaffrey, the Dare to Cheer Camp with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders, and the Global Down Syndrome Educational Series. Global is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.
About the National Down Syndrome Congress
Founded in 1973, the National Down Syndrome Congress is the oldest national organization for people with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who work with them. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization, the NDSC provides free technical support and information about issues related to Down syndrome throughout the lifespan, as well as on matters of public policy relating to disability rights. Best known for its annual convention – the largest of its type in the world – the National Down Syndrome Congress is a grassroots organization recognized for its “family” feel, its “We’re More Alike than Different” public awareness campaign, and its outreach to individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Statement from Global Down Syndrome Foundation Executive Director Michelle Sie Whitten on Thai surrogacy case
August 4th, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Statement from Global Down Syndrome Foundation Executive Director Michelle Sie Whitten in response to the story of a surrogate baby with Down syndrome in Thailand whose surrogate mother says was abandoned by his parents:
The discrimination against people with Down syndrome, even in developed nations, is profound. The abandonment of a surrogate twin boy with Down syndrome to life or death in Thailand clearly underscores this.
The reality is the condition is almost completely different from what it was just 20 years ago. For example, the lifespan of a person with Down syndrome in the 1980s was 28 years old, and today it is nearly 60. And according to a national U.S. poll commissioned by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, over three-quarters of Americans believe people with Down syndrome have the right to vote, buy a home and get married, with 97 percent of Americans agreeing that people with Down syndrome should have the chance to hold a job and deserve fundamental human and civil rights.
As a first-generation American, Executive Director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, a women’s rights advocate living in the 21st century, and a mother of a child with Down syndrome and her typical brother, I would hope that accurate information about Down syndrome would have steered this headline-making Australian couple toward a different, if not educated, decision.
Watch CBS4′s Kathy Walsh interview Global Executive Director Michelle Sie Whitten about the case:
August 3rd, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Award-winning actor John C. McGinley expounds on his hit TV show “Ground Floor,” working with Oliver Stone, being an international spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and his most important role – being a dad to Max, who happens to have Down syndrome. McGinley is also a Global board member and a recipient of Global’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. McGinley is truly a Global hero. Learn more by watching his Global Tribute Video.
1. You play the tycoon Remington Stewart Mansfield on the new hit comedy Ground Floor, which is getting ready to return for its second season on TBS. Tell us what people love about this prickly hilarious character.
2. What is it like working with Skylar Astin (Brody), Briga Heelan (Jennifer) and the rest of the talented cast on Ground Floor? Are you ever forced to break into song?
3. You have an illustrious film career, including starring in seven Oliver Stone films (Platoon, Wall Street, Any Given Sunday, World Trade Center, Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July, Talk Radio). What was it like working with such a legendary director on such important films?
4. For 10 years, you starred as the acerbic and loveable Dr. Perry Cox on the Emmy Award-winning Scrubs. What is your favorite memory from the Scrubs set?
5. In addition to your award-winning acting career, you are a dedicated husband and father. What’s your secret to balancing work and home life?
6. Your son Max turns 17 this month. He happens to have Down syndrome. How has that influenced you as a father and as a person?
7. You are a board member and International Spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Why should people support Global and the work they do?
8. You are a regular at Global’s award-winning event, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. What is so special about this event?
9. In addition to your work with Global, you are a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics and have been an integral part of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. (Read John’s commentary on the issue from The Huffington Post.) What are your hopes for this campaign’s future and its impact?
10. What is the best advice you were ever given that you would like to pass on?
August 1st, 2014 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Children from across the United States are benefiting from the efforts of the multi-disciplinary team at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a founding donor of the Sie Center and continues to provide financial and advocacy support.
Since opening in 2011, the Sie Center has grown to be one of the largest centers in the United States that specializes in treating children with Down syndrome.
“We see patients from 24 states, especially Colorado and its neighbors,” said Fran Hickey, M.D., Medical Director of the Sie Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Our center is really unique because of the collaboration in the hospital and the emphasis on excellent medical care and clinical research.”
A Multi-disciplinary Team and Subspecialty Care
The Sie Center has a multi-disciplinary team of 13 professionals working full-time treating patients with Down syndrome. Medical care, speech therapy, physical therapy, behavioral support, nutrition, assistive technology, social work and access to resources are integrated for each child.
The Sie Center also benefits from being housed in a top ten children’s hospital. Located at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Sie Center’s patients have access to over 20 subspecialists at the hospital, who focus on areas such as cardiology, sleep disorders, audiology, otolaryngology, and endocrinology. This is important since children with Down syndrome often are at increased risk for congenital heart conditions, leukemia, autoimmune disorders and sleep apnea.
“We have built a team of professionals dedicated to and passionate about children with Down syndrome,” said Patricia Winders, P.T., Senior Physical Therapist and Director of Therapies at the Sie Center. “This team embodies the difference between going to a typical physician appointment and being referred to specialists in different locations, compared to visiting one place where a group of medical professionals look at your whole child and collaborate about your child’s care. Our families tell us we make them feel at home, listened to, and well cared for.”
Establishing a Baseline for Life-long Health
The medical professionals at the Sie Center have well over 100 years combined experience specializing in care for children with Down syndrome. Winders, who has just completed her 2nd edition of Gross Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome, has over 30 years of experience in treating children with this diagnosis. Her focus is on creating a healthy foundation for posture and movement, and a positive encouraging environment to meet milestones.
“We help children develop the strength, posture and motor skills they will need to be active as adolescents and beyond, so that as they mature, they can choose to do what they love,” she said.
Dr. Hickey and others at the Sie Center are designing and engaged in clinical research studies that will address a variety of issues including sleep apnea, swallow and feeding issues, pain management, and autoimmune disorders. Currently, Down syndrome research receives the least amount of federal funding of any genetic condition.
“Our research is going to benefit children with Down syndrome and typical children alike, since medical problems such as sleep apnea may affect any pediatric patient,” Dr. Hickey added. “We want to help children and families function as well as possible in every realm — health, education, and social well-being.” With excellent feedback from many of its 1,000 families it is clear the Sie Center and is delivering on its important mission to provide life-changing health care to children with Down syndrome.
To learn more about the multidisciplinary team at the Sie Center or to schedule an appointment, call 720-777-6750 or visit siecenter.org.